Lima Rural Development

Photo Credit: Andrea Weiss

About Lima Rural Development

Lima Rural Development (Lima) is a non-profit company established in 1989. By providing sustainable and integrated development services to rural communities in South Africa and Lesotho, Lima promotes dignified, sustainable, and transformative community growth. As an implementation agent for rural development and social responsibility initiatives, Lima has partnered with the government and several organisations and corporates across South Africa to ensure that development and social responsibility objectives are met. Participative and inclusive programmes implemented by Lima on behalf of businesses and government have resulted in the successful and sustainable development of poor rural areas.

Lima believes that inclusive development is critical for impactful and sustainable social transformation in rural communities. Emphasis is placed on incorporating marginalised people into development interventions as well as into the mainstream economy. They foster a collaborative platform for building strategic, multisectoral stakeholder partnerships with disadvantaged communities to advance the long-term empowerment of rural people. Lima focuses on nourishing long-term developmental partnerships between local stakeholders and communities to develop meaningful ‘shared value’ on behalf of investors.

The mission of Lima is to empower rural people, particularly women, to overcome poverty. As an organisation, Lima supports the simultaneous development of people and livelihoods in resource-scarce contexts, particularly rural areas. Through well-integrated, field-based interventions, Lima leverages local economic development activities and the establishment of appropriate institutions to help alleviate poverty and build human capacity.

Lima’s long-term objective is to continuously seek investment opportunities for poor rural communities, as these investments make a tangible difference to people’s lives. When investments are secured, their implementation methodology is to embed appropriately qualified development facilitators in these areas to coordinate a community-led institutionalised development process. This is initiated through a consultative planning process and developing strong local organisational capacity, which will ensure community priorities are implemented and achieved. A long-term presence in these communities is achieved by securing further complementary investment overlays from a variety of sources.

Lima and the WWF Nedbank Green Trust

The smallholder farming and informal food trade sectors ground to a halt at the onset of Covid-19 and the lockdowns that followed. Given the importance of these sectors in supporting many South Africans, the complete lack of economic activity meant that many people were in dire straits. The WWF Nedbank Green Trust recognised this challenge and made a special call for catalytic project proposals that would address the havoc that Covid-19 wreaked on the livelihoods and food security of those working in the sector and those reliant on its success.

There are approximately two million smallholder farmers in South Africa, and many of them rely on the land to feed their families, hoping to sell or trade any surplus. These farmers need to become resilient to dramatic environmental and socials changes like climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic. So, as part of the WWF Nedbank Green Trust’s continued efforts to improve food security through sustainable farming practices, the Trust funded several organisations that will be running innovative projects to help these farmers during and after the pandemic. Lima has partnered with the WWF Nedbank Green Trust to run one of these projects.

Maloti Thaba Tsa Metsi protected environment

Since 2016, the uMzimvubu Catchment Partnership (UCP), a collection of private organisations, non-governmental bodies, traditional authorities, government authorities and private citizens of which Lima, ERS and CSA are key partners, has been driving groundbreaking conservation work: Securing land across six chieftainships in this rural communal tenure landscape into the Maloti Thaba Tsa Metsi protected environment.

This 48 500 ha protected environment will make significant contributions to the biodiversity targets in six different vulnerable and threatened veld types and enhance water infiltration. The watershed area is prioritised for protected area expansion due to meeting multiple targets in terms of biodiversity, ecological function, intactness, connectivity, and high ecosystem service delivery specifically its value as a strategic water source area, condition as pristine mountain grassland vegetation, with high altitude seeps and wetlands providing over 80% of the basal flow recharge for the area, and ecosystem services value of over one million rural downstream users. It is also strategically located in the Transfrontier zone between South Africa and Lesotho, which both form part of the water source area. Its rangelands and natural resources directly support over 250 000 people in the Matatiele Local Municipality. Almost two-thirds of these residents own livestock, with thousands of small farmers currently engaged in securing rangeland areas along the buffer of the proposed protected area through improved grazing management, linked to mobile auctions that feed into the national red meat value chain. Prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, negotiations for the protected area were proceeding well, and all six chiefdoms were moving towards community resolution and declaration. Today, the National Department of Land Affairs has given the go-ahead, and all participating communities have signed resolutions for their land to be declared a protected environment.

Securing the springs

Many catchment residents do not have direct access to potable water for consumption, household, and productive purposes despite living on one of South Africa’s strategic water source areas. Lima, in partnership with CSA and ERS, has taken it on themselves to tackle this issue.

They began by securing the natural infrastructure that people currently rely on to ensure water supply to many catchment communities. They do this using simple and cost-effective technologies to protect springs that residents use for water supply, while educating users on safe water-handling practices and providing the support that these people need to meet their daily water needs. Currently the team are making headway on the construction of 18 spring capture systems. These will offer fresh, clean quality water to 600 households in 12 villages (about 3 000 people).

Lima and their partners engaged with the leaders in the six chieftainships on the best sites to build the spring capture systems. Locals collect water for drinking and doing their washing at these spring capture systems. They build brick or stone structures around the spring to protect the clean water emerging from the spring from contaminants. The goal is to ensure that these springs continue to supply good, clean, potable water to households within 500 metres of the source, and to supply every member of the community with at least 20 litres per day.

Once complete, this project will deliver the following benefits:

  • A minimum of 450 immediate household beneficiaries will have increased access to clean water, decreased vulnerability to disease, and improved food security through enhanced home-garden production capacity. The most vulnerable households will be chosen from a spectrum of 18 villages that consist of up to 3 000 people who will also receive training on improved hygiene practice.
  • Traditional authorities and local government will benefit from enhanced welfare for their constituents and a network of facilitators to help with minimal outside assistance, increasing their leadership credibility in addressing the most urgent livelihood needs.
  • The proposed 48 500 ha watershed park undergoing declaration, together with strong community support contributing to the national protected area estate and South Africa’s international commitments will benefit the formal conservation sector in South Africa.

The Project


Lima, in partnership with Conservation South Africa (CSA) and Environmental and Rural Solutions (ERS), is implementing the WWF Nedbank Green Trust funded project and has taken a two-pronged approach to tackling the impacts of Covid-19 on rural communities in the Eastern Cape. The first prong is protecting the Southern Maloti Drakensberg watershed located at the intersection of the Eastern Cape and southern KwaZulu-Natal strategic water source areas. The second prong is to create and secure springs in the area to ensure a supply of fresh, potable water to residents of the area.

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